Echidna is a rare mammal that does not go unnoticed. Its distinctive characteristics make it impossible not to look at it.
This creature has a very rare characteristic in mammals: it is oviparous, but this is not its only peculiarity.
This rare species of animal is so particular that a whole suborder has been created in the animal kingdom, the order Tachyglossa. And no wonder, all the amazing and unique features that come together in this extraordinary oviparous mammal make it worthy of a special place.
What does Echidna look like?
Tachyglossus aculeatus is the scientific name for Echidna. But its common name has its origin in mythology and is due to a nymph from which great monsters came.
The body of this strange mammal is flattened and has thorns of approximately 6cm in the back, which perhaps gives us the idea of seeing a hedgehog or the porcupine itself.
Its furry skin protects it from the sun and annoying insects. Its flat head has an elongated beak with the lower jaw shorter than the upper.
In its beak is hidden a long tongue that can extend at least 20 cm. Since it has no teeth, it crushes its food with mouth spurs.
Its specialised digging legs are distinguished by their long claws which, with their striking shovel shape, make it easy to dig into the ground.
Its senses of touch and smell are the most acute ones it possesses. In addition, it has a tail that grows 10cm. All this in a compact and rounded body of about 30 to 50cm long.
Its life expectancy is very long, they live an impressive 50 years.
The Tachyglossus aculeatus, has a rest system in which they enter, not according to the winter season, but it depends more on temperatures, specifically when it passes 25 degrees Celsius, and wakes up at 15 degrees or when it exceeds 28 degrees. So you can’t say that they hibernate.
Although it has a full life in the wild, it lives less than in captivity as it does not enjoy the care of zoos or supervised wilderness areas.
But this does not mean that they are better kept in captivity. In the wild they enjoy freedom, which does not equate to any benefit of captivity.
Where does Echidna live?
The Echidna is a rare mammal native to Oceania, particularly New Zealand and surrounding islands, Tasmania, Australia and other areas.
Its natural habitat ranges from deserts to forests, where it finds a great variety of hiding places and shelters: small rocks, logs and caves, either natural or of its own making.
Although it can be seen during the day, it is more likely to be seen at night.
What does Echidna eat?
This rare animal mainly feeds on insects such as ants and termites.
It also eats worms and other small animals that provide it with the proteins it needs for healthy development until adulthood.
Food for this animal may seem abundant, but it will depend on the time of year and the area where the Eqidna in question lives.
Another point to keep in mind is that this animal must go to where its food is, which means walking some distances that can be considerable if we take into account that it is relatively small.
How does it reproduce?
This rare animal reproduces in a very particular way because it does not usually give birth to mammals, but rather lays a single egg. Yes, it’s an oviparous mammal.
The sexual act reaches 30 minutes. Females do not have a vulva like other animals, rather, from the anus they expel both urine and feces and it is also through this cavity that they reproduce.
The male also has this system, although he does have his independent member with which he reproduces.
This animal takes care of its offspring with a special pouch such as a kangaroo’s, which makes it fall under the definition of a marsupial.
Another unusual feature is the way it feeds its young, these extract the milk from its mother through the pores and not from the nipples, because the female Echidna does not have them.
Once they are weaned, the mother builds a burrow to shelter them while she gets food for them.
When they reach 7 months they are able to support themselves and become independent, starting from there their adult life.
Without doubt, Echidna is a true animal phenomenon.
What are its predators?
The main natural predators of Echidna are the eagle and the Dingo, a species of Wolf that lives in the same habitat.
As with other animals, humans have become another predator for this rare mammal.